By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
Read other parts here: A Response to the Attack on Sedevacantism in The Fatima Crusader, Catholic Family News and The Remnant
IN THIS ARTICLE:
-THE ARGUMENT FROM MARTIN LUTHER AND THE “SIXTY DAYS” – A TRUE DISTORTION
-FERRARA COMPLAINS THAT THE SEDEVACANTISTS ACCUSE JOHN PAUL II OF MORE HERESIES THAN LUTHER
-THE FALSE ARGUMENT FROM THE CASE OF JOHN XXII
-CONTRADICTIONS AND THE CASE OF POPE HONORIUS
-FERRARA ON THE TEACHING THAT NO ONE CAN JUDGE THE POPE
-FERRARA’S RECENT INSTALLMENT: HE DOESN’T ADDRESS SEDEVACANTIST ARGUMENTS WITH ANY SPECIFICITY
-FERRARA IS STILL ASSERTING THAT THE VATICAN II ANTIPOPES HAVEN’T TAUGHT ANY HERESY!
-FERRARA DOESN’T ADDRESS THE FACT THAT THE PUBLICATIONS HE WRITES FOR AND ENDORSES PROVE THE VERY POSITION THAT HE IS ATTACKING
-FERRARA ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY THE POSITION OF THE SSPX, WHO IS COMPLETELY OUTSIDE OF HIS “POPE,” THUS PROVING THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOESN’T EXIST UNDER BENEDICT XVI
-FERRARA BRINGS UP A DISHONEST STRAW MAN: THE CASSICIACUM THESIS
*Emphasis in this article (including bolding, underlining and italicization, is not necessarily that of the quoted author and is usually my own).*
THE ARGUMENT FROM MARTIN LUTHER AND THE “SIXTY DAYS” – A TRUE DISTORTION
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 20: “Indeed, even Martin Luther was summoned to defend his views and then given sixty days to retract his 41 distinct heresies before finally suffering the sentence of excommunication. Who exactly would afford the Pope this due process? Or are we to believe that the holder of the papal office is entitled to less justice than the likes of Martin Luther?”
The non-sedevacantists think that they’ve got a good one in this argument from Mr. Ferrara. A non-sedevacantist who had read Ferrara’s article e-mailed us attempting to put it in our face, as if it were a knock-out punch to the “Enterprise.” But, as is the case with all heretics and their false arguments, when one is familiar with the facts involved it is easier to uncover their clever artifices, their subtle distortions and their clear errors.
Mr. Ferrara states that Martin Luther was given sixty days to retract his 41 heresies before suffering the penalty of excommunication. The impression that Ferrara gives is that Luther was not to be considered a heretic until after the sixty days elapsed. If that is not the meaning of Mr. Ferrara, then his statement has no value for his argument. In the footnote to this statement (Catholic Family News, p. 24, note 8), Ferrara states: “The [Sedevacantist] Enterprise evidently believes it can condemn the conciliar popes as heretics without even an opportunity to recant!” Therefore, Ferrara is attempting to show that Luther couldn’t be considered a heretic until after the sixty days (which gave him an opportunity to retract) had elapsed.
Ferrara’s understanding of this whole affair is completely wrong. This is proven by the fact that Martin Luther was declared a heretic by Pope Leo X in the very Bull Exsurge Domine, before the sixty days to recant even began.
Pope Leo X, “Exsurge Domine,” June 15, 1520: “Therefore we can, without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation as one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic with the full severity of each and all of the above penalties and censures. Yet, with the advice of our brothers, imitating the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, and forgetting all the injuries inflicted on us and the Apostolic See, we have decided to use all the compassion we are capable of. It is our hope, so far as in us lies, that he will experience a change of heart by taking the road of mildness we have proposed, return, and turn away from his errors. We will receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church.”
This was before the sixty days began. All heretics are ipso facto excommunicated without any declaration. It was near the end of the Bull that Pope Leo X gave Luther a final sixty days to recant and repent, or else the full penalty of ecclesiastical punishment would be enforced on him as a public heretic.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Luther,” 1910, p. 445: “The Bull of excommunication, ‘Exsurge Domine’… formally condemned forty-one propositions drawn from his writings, ordered the destruction of the books containing the errors, and summoned Luther himself to recant within sixty days or receive the full penalty of ecclesiastical punishment.”
What was this all about? In those days, Catholic states would imprison and even execute certain public heretics. After the Council of Constance officially declared that John Hus was a heretic, Hus was turned over to the civil power and burned at the stake. The same could have happened to Luther, so Pope Leo X was giving him a final sixty days to avoid such a possibility. One might say that Pope Leo X was giving Luther a final sixty days to recant and live.
That is why The Catholic Encyclopedia proceeds to point out that the enforcement of the provisions of the Bull was the duty of the civil power.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Luther,” 1910, p. 446: “The next step, the enforcement of the provisions of the Bull, was the duty of the civil power.”
Martin Luther probably would have been burned at the stake or imprisoned if he had not escaped the territory aided by powerful friends.
“Private conferences were held to determine Luther's fate. Before a decision was reached, Luther left Worms. During his return to Wittenberg, he disappeared. The Emperor issued the Edict of Worms on May 25, 1521, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw and a heretic and banning his literature. Luther's disappearance during his return trip was planned. Frederick the Wise arranged for Luther to be seized on his way from the Diet by a company of masked horsemen, who carried him to Wartburg Castle at Eisenach, where he stayed for about a year. He grew a wide flaring beard, took on the garb of a knight, and assumed the pseudonym Junker Jörg (Knight George). During this period of forced sojourn in the world, Luther was still hard at work upon his celebrated translation of the New Testament, though he couldn't rely on the isolation of a monastery.” (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “Martin Luther”)
So, we can see that the “sixty days” had a reality that was far different from the impression that Ferrara creates – as if Luther couldn’t have been denounced as a non-Catholic heretic until that time. To illustrate the “patent absurdity” of such a conclusion, here is a quotation from Luther well BEFORE the sixty days even began. Please tell me, dear reader, if this man could have been considered a Catholic at that time?
Martin Luther, speaking before the Bull of Pope Leo X giving him the final sixty days was even published: “As for me, the die is cast: I despise alike the favor and fury of Rome; I do not wish to be reconciled with her, or ever to hold any communion with her. Let her condemn and burn my books; I, in turn, unless I can find no fire, will condemn and publicly burn the whole pontifical law, that swamp of heresies.’” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Luther,” 1910, pp. 445-446.)
Or are we to believe – to borrow Mr. Ferrara’s phrase – that the man who uttered this quotation (well before the final sixty days were even issued) was a Catholic or could have been considered one? If such an idea isn’t “patently absurd,” then nothing is. Such an idea flatly rejects the following dogmatic teaching, in which we are taught that formal processes and judgments are not necessary for ipso facto excommunications to take effect. They are very often, as in the case of Luther, formal recognitions of the ipso facto excommunication that has already occurred.
Pope Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794:
“47. Likewise, the proposition which teaches that it is necessary, according to the natural and divine laws, for either excommunication or for suspension, that a personal examination should precede, and that, therefore, sentences called ‘ipso facto’ have no other force than that of a serious threat without any actual effect” – false, rash, pernicious, injurious to the power of the Church, erroneous. (Denz. 1547)
The formal process and judgment is nice to have, especially when the civil power may be issuing death sentences for heresy; but the formal sentence or process is not necessary for Catholics to have in order to denounce a manifest heretic as a non-Catholic – a manifest heretic who has shown himself to be familiar with the Catholic teaching he obstinately rejects. When the heresy is so manifest, as in the case of Luther or Benedict XVI (who says we shouldn’t convert non-Catholics and takes active part in Synagogue worship), Catholics not only can denounce him as a non-Catholic without a trial, but must do so. That is precisely why St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, in addressing this precise question, states unequivocally that the manifest heretic is deposed and can be considered a non-Catholic with no authority before any “excommunication or judicial sentence.” In this context, St. Robert uses the word “excommunication” to refer to the ferendae sententiae penalty (the formal declaration by the Pope or judge).
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, II, 30, speaking of a claimant to the Papal Office:
"For, in the first place, it is proven with arguments from authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is 'ipso facto' deposed. The argument from authority is based on St. Paul (Titus 3:10), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate - which means before any excommunication or judicial sentence. And this is what St. Jerome writes, adding that the other sinners are excluded from the Church by sentence of excommunication, but the heretics exile themselves and separate themselves by their own act from the body of Christ."
Let me repeat that: WHICH MEANS BEFORE ANY EXCOMMUNICATION OR JUDICIAL SENTENCE! So, we can see that Mr. Ferrara, in presenting this case as an argument, has gotten it all wrong. His conclusion would – and does – make a complete mockery out of the unity of Faith in the Church. In case we have forgotten, there is a unity of Faith in the Catholic Church (as in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.)
According to Ferrara’s conclusion, Catholics would have to affirm communion with a man who publicly avowed that he wanted no communion with the Catholic Church, and held that the whole Pontifical law is a swamp of heresies. To state that Catholics should hold communion with such a manifest heretic because no process against him had been completed, is an utter mockery of Catholic teaching, Catholic Tradition and Catholic sense.
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, II, 30: “… for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; BUT WHEN THEY SEE THAT SOMEONE IS A HERETIC BY HIS EXTERNAL WORKS, THEY JUDGE HIM TO BE A HERETIC PURE AND SIMPLE, AND CONDEMN HIM AS A HERETIC.”
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896: “The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, WHO WERE WONT TO HOLD AS OUTSIDE CATHOLIC COMMUNION, AND ALIEN TO THE CHURCH, WHOEVER WOULD RECEDE IN THE LEAST DEGREE FROM ANY POINT OF DOCTRINE PROPOSED BY HER AUTHORITATIVE MAGISTERIUM.”
Likewise, according to Ferrara, one must affirm communion with Benedict XVI, a man who says that Jesus Christ is not necessarily the Messiah and that we shouldn’t convert Protestants. The unity of Faith doesn’t exist in such a religion; it is certainly not the Catholic religion.
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 22): “… in the true Christian community…there can be only one faith….those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.”
The only thing that Ferrara has gotten right in this argument is to put Benedict XVI in the same category as Luther. The two German heretics certainly deserve to be compared. Luther and Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) are both among the worst heretics with which the Church ever contended, the latter being an admirer of Luther.
“Cardinal” Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), p. 263: “That which in Luther makes all else bearable because of the greatness of his spiritual fervor, that which orders it to a Christian center – precisely that is being ignored.”
Benedict XVI is not only an admirer of Luther, but a promoter of his worst heresies. Benedict XVI approved – and is actually credited with saving – the Joint Declaration with the Lutherans on Justification. This agreement declares that the worst Lutheran heresies on Justification – including Justification by faith alone and “at the same time just and totally sinner” – do not fall under the condemnations of the Council of Trent.
Joint Declaration with the Lutherans on Justification: "41. Thus the doctrinal condemnations of the 16th century [i.e., the Council of Trent], in so far as they are related to the doctrine of justification, appear in a new light: The teaching of the Lutheran churches presented in this Declaration does not fall under the condemnations from the Council of Trent."
No matter where Chris Ferrara and the non-sedevacantists want to turn, they are refuted. If they want to bring up the dogma of the Papacy, we can prove that Benedict XVI denies the Papacy. If they want to bring up the case of Luther, we can prove that Benedict XVI accepts Luther’s heresies. If they want to bring up the unity and visibility of the Church, we can prove that Benedict XVI totally rejects the unity of the Church.
“Cardinal” Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), pp. 145-146: “The Fathers are the teachers of the yet undivided Church.”
It is precisely because we believe that the Papacy is binding, and that the heresies of Luther must be rejected, etc. that we correctly regard the Vatican II Antipopes as non-Catholics. Ferrara cannot see that by defending Benedict XVI he is defending a new version of Luther. But this version of Luther (Benedict XVI) goes to the Synagogue and praises Islam – something that even Luther himself would denounce as apostasy!
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, 1996, p. 244: “And, to prescind from the schism between Sunnites and Shiites, it [Islam] also exists in many varieties. There is a noble Islam, embodied, for example, by the King of Morocco…”
That brings me to my next point...
FERRARA COMPLAINS THAT THE SEDEVACANTISTS ACCUSE JOHN PAUL II OF MORE HERESIES THAN LUTHER
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 21: “For example, a tract entitled ‘101 Heresies of Anti-Pope John Paul II,’ which is typical of the Enterprise’s literature, merely catalogues tendentious interpretations of ambiguous papal statements without quoting any plainly heretical propositions, or else lists as ‘manifest heresies’ scandalous papal actions such as John Paul II’s kissing the Koran. (The latter did not amount to formal heresy, as the kissing of the Koran was not the pertinacious denial of an article of divine and Catholic faith, but rather a probably impetuous and certainly outrageous gesture of respect to the Islamic delegates who had presented the Pope with the book.) That John Paul II alone stands accused by the Enterprise of at least sixty more ‘manifest heresies’ than the infallible Magisterium at the Council of Trent was able to find in the writings of Martin Luther, probably the worst heretic in Church history, does not give the Enterprise’s amateur heresy sleuths the least pause for reflection.”
First, Ferrara has it wrong: it was Pope Leo X who condemned the 41 propositions of Luther, not the Council of Trent.
Second, the fact that John Paul II committed more acts of heresy and made more heretical statements than Luther makes perfect sense. This is because John Paul II engaged in an entire genre of heresy which Luther never did: non-Christian religions. John Paul II’s apostasy with non-Christian religions gave him a much larger field of heresy in which to play than Luther ever had, and boy did he use it. John Paul II engaged in apostasy with everything from Voodoo to Jainism. Did Luther ever pray with Animists? No, but John Paul II did. Manifest and despicable heretic that he was, Martin Luther at least believed that it was necessary to believe in Jesus Christ. This cannot be said about John Paul II.
Would Martin Luther have ever said the following?
John Paul II, Message to "Grand Sheikh Mohammed," Feb. 24, 2000: "Islam is a religion. Christianity is a religion. Islam has become a culture. Christianity has become also a culture... I thank your university, the biggest center of Islamic culture. I thank those who are developing Islamic culture..."
Martin Luther would have condemned John Paul II as a complete apostate. Would Martin Luther have taught that all men are saved? No.
John Paul II, General Audience, Dec. 27, 1978: “Jesus is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity become a man; and therefore in Jesus, human nature and therefore the whole of humanity, is redeemed, saved, ennobled to the extent of participating in ‘divine life’ by means of Grace.”
John Paul II also gave a staggering number of speeches, probably many more than Luther. All things considered, it makes sense that there are more instances of heresy from John Paul II than from Luther.
THE FALSE ARGUMENT FROM THE CASE OF JOHN XXII
In his attack on sedevacantism, Chris Ferrara also brings forward the case of John XXII. The facts of this case prove nothing for the non-sedevacantists, except how desperate they are for arguments.
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 21: “Compare the [Sedevacantist] Enterprise’s lack of success in finding ‘manifest’ heresy in the pronouncements of the conciliar popes with the historical example of Pope John XXII. In 1331, certain French theologians and Cardinal Orsini denounced John XXII as a heretic when, in a series of sermons, he taught that the souls of the blessed departed, after finishing their appointed time in Purgatory, do not see God until after the last judgment. Cardinal Orsini called for a general council to pronounce the Pope a heretic… Confronted in this public manner, John XXII replied that he had not intended to bind the whole Church to his sermons, and he impaneled a commission of theologians to consider the question. The commission informed the Pope that he was in error, and he did retract the error several years later, the day before his death. Yet despite being denounced as a heretic and threatened with a general council to declare his heresy, John XXII never ceased to be regarded by the Church as Pope, and Church history duly records him as such.”
First, I want the reader to notice something very interesting: when Ferrara is discussing John XXII, notice that the affair is exaggerated. He doesn’t hesitate to label it as an example of actual heresy. But when Ferrara is addressing the clear heresies of the Vatican II “Popes,” they are all diminished so much that he denies that any of them even constitute heresy:
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 21: “But the [Sedevacantist] Enterprise does not even get to first base since, as we shall see, despite its indefatigable efforts it has failed to identify any ‘manifest’ heresy among the many ambiguous pronouncements and disturbing (even scandalous) actions of John Paul II or Paul VI...”
Okay, so none of the clear heresies from John Paul II and Paul VI (e.g., teaching that there are Saints in other religions; stating that we shouldn’t convert non-Catholics; etc.) even constitute heresy, according to Ferrara; but the case of John XXII certainly rose to the level of heresy. Yeah… sure. Does anyone not see the profound hypocrisy and utter dishonesty here? When Ferrara and other non-sedevacantists feel that it is an advantage to belittle the heresy, they raise the bar for heresy, so that basically nothing rises to the level of actual heresy. But when they deem it useful to exaggerate a heresy (as in the case of John XXII), because they think it will successfully oppose sedevacantism, they overstate it and make it seem much worse than it was.
The fact of the matter is that John XXII was not a heretic. John XXII’s position that the souls of the blessed departed don’t see the Beatific Vision until after the General Judgment was not a matter that had yet been specifically defined as a dogma. This definition occurred two years after Pope John XXII’s death by Pope Benedict XII in Benedictus Deus (Denz. 530), but I guess Ferrara didn’t feel that it was important to mention that fact.
The fact that Cardinal Orsini denounced John XXII as a heretic doesn’t prove anything, especially when we consider the context of the events. To provide a brief background: John XXII had condemned as heretical the teaching of “the Spirituals.” This group held that Christ and the Apostles had no possessions individually or in common. John XXII condemned this view as contrary to Sacred Scripture, and declared that all who persistently adhered to it are heretical (Denz. 494). “The Spirituals” and others like them, including King Louis of Bavaria, were condemned as heretics.
When the controversy about John XXII’s statements on the Beatific Vision occurred, the Spirituals and King Louis of Bavaria profited by it and accused the Pope of heresy. These enemies of the Church were supported by Cardinal Orsini, the man Ferrara mentions in his article.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, “John XXII,” Vol. 8, 1910, p. 433: “The Spirituals, always in close alliance with Louis of Bavaria, profited by these events to accuse the pope of heresy, being supported by Cardinal Napoleon Orsini. In union with the latter, King Louis wrote to the cardinals, urging them to call a general council and condemn the pope.”
With this background, we can see that Ferrara’s statement that “Cardinal Orsini called for a general council to pronounce the Pope a heretic…” takes on a different light: Yes, Cardinal Orsini and his good friends, the excommunicated heretics. In fact, even Ferrara’s own “Pope,” in his book Dogmatic Theology (which I recently read), notes that the scandal was exploited by the enemies of the Church for political ends:
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Dogmatic Theology, 1977, p. 137: “The scandal [of John XXII] was exploited for political ends in the accusation of heresy brought by the Pope’s Franciscan opponents [the Spirituals] in the circle of William of Ockham at the court of the emperor Louis of Bavaria.” (The Catholic University of America Press)
Ferrara places himself right in the company of the enemies of the Church with his exaggeration of the case of John XXII. John XXII was not a heretic. In addition to the fact that the matter had not yet been specifically defined as a dogma, John XXII also made it clear that he bound no one to his (false) opinion and was not arriving at a definitive conclusion on the matter:
The Catholic Encyclopedia, on Pope John XXII: “Pope John wrote to King Phillip IV on the matter (November, 1333), and emphasized the fact that, as long as the Holy See had not given a decision, the theologians enjoyed perfect freedom in this matter. In December, 1333, the theologians at Paris, after a consultation on the question, decided in favor of the doctrine that the souls of the blessed departed saw God immediately after death or after their complete purification; at the same time they pointed out that the pope had given no decision on this question but only advanced his personal opinion, and now petitioned the pope to confirm their decision. John appointed a commission at Avignon to study the writings of the Fathers, and to discuss further the disputed question. In a consistory held on 3 January, 1334, the pope explicitly declared that he had never meant to teach anything contrary to Holy Scripture or the rule of faith and in fact had not intended to give any decision whatever. Before his death he withdrew his former opinion, and declared his belief that souls separated from their bodies enjoyed in heaven the Beatific Vision.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, p. 433.)
All of this serves to show that John XXII was not a heretic. He held a personal opinion that was dead wrong, one which he explicitly declared was nothing more than opinion.
In fact, despite his significant error, John XXII was quite vigorous against heresy. His condemnation of the Spirituals and King Louis of Bavaria is proof that he did condemn heresy. To compare him to the Vatican II Antipopes who don’t even believe that heresy exists is, to put it mildly, a patent absurdity!
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, pp. 87-88: “The difficulty in the way of giving an answer is a profound one. Ultimately it is due to the fact that there is no appropriate category in Catholic thought for the phenomenon of Protestantism today (one could say the same of the relationship to the separated churches of the East). It is obvious that the old category of ‘heresy’ is no longer of any value. Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message…The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined.”
Ferrara’s “Pope” doesn’t even believe that Protestantism is heresy! What a joke (a satanic joke) that anyone would obstinately assert that this man is a Catholic! Above I pointed out that wherever Ferrara turns (the Papacy, Luther, etc.), he is refuted. Well, since we’re on the topic of John XXII and the General Judgment, it should be noted that Benedict XVI denies perhaps the most central Catholic dogma regarding the General Judgment: the Resurrection of the Body!
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Introduction to Christianity, 2004, p. 349: “It now becomes clear that the real heart of faith in the resurrection does not consist at all in the idea of the restoration of bodies, to which we have reduced it in our thinking; such is the case even though this is the pictorial image used throughout the Bible.” (Ignatius Press, 2004)
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Introduction to Christianity, p. 353: “The foregoing reflections may have clarified to some extent what is involved in the biblical pronouncements about the resurrection: their essential content is not the conception of a restoration of bodies to souls after a long interval…”
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Introduction to Christianity, 2004, pp. 357-358: “To recapitulate, Paul teaches, not the resurrection of physical bodies, but the resurrection of persons…”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is no minor issue. The Resurrection of the Body is no small dogma. Besides being part of the Apostles’ Creed, this dogma has been defined more than almost any other dogma of the Faith. Here are just a few examples:
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, ex cathedra: “…all of whom will rise with their bodies which they now bear…” (Denz. 429)
Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274, ex cathedra: “The same most holy Roman Church firmly believes and firmly declares that nevertheless on the day of judgment all men will be brought together with their bodies before the tribunal of Christ to render an account of their own deeds.” (Denz. 464)
Pope Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus, Jan. 29, 1336, ex cathedra: “Moreover, we declare that… all men with their bodies will make themselves ready to render an account of their own deeds before the tribunal of Christ…” (Denz. 531)
Benedict XVI denies this dogma in his book Introduction to Christianity (as we can see above) by teaching that St. Paul doesn’t teach the resurrection of physical bodies, and that the resurrection does not consist in the restoration of bodies. This is bold heresy. So, when Ferrara brings up the issue of John XXII and the Last Judgment, he does nothing except remind us of another dogma which Benedict XVI denies and another proof why he is not the Pope. Thank you, Mr. Ferrara.
CONTRADICTIONS AND THE CASE OF POPE HONORIUS
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 20: “It is certainly inherently plausible that if the Pope were to become a heretic he would thereby cease to be Pope, for heretics are not Catholics, and non-Catholics cannot be Popes. As already noted, theologians commonly accept this theoretical possibility. St. Robert Bellarmine summed up the theological consensus thus: ‘A pope who is a manifest heretic ipso facto ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church.’”
In his article, Mr. Ferrara clearly states that a heretic would cease to be Pope. He even admits that St. Robert Bellarmine’s teaching that a manifest heretic would cease to be Pope “summed up the theological consensus.” That is to say, St. Robert’s teaching that a manifest heretic ceases to be Pope is the common agreement of theologians.
However, on the next page Ferrara immediately contradicts this assertion when addressing Pope Honorius I, who was condemned after his death for having held the monothelite heresy. Ferrara is now arguing that a heretic remains Pope:
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 21: “Yet although Honorius was post-humously condemned for heresy by a general council, the Church does not consider him to have ceased to be Pope, even though he stood ac-cused [sic] of heresy during his very reign.’”
Ferrara brings up the case of Pope Honorius obviously in an attempt to prove that a heretic can be Pope. Catholic Family News even puts a picture of Pope Honorius (with the above quote from Ferrara) on the cover of its August issue, as if it were a knock-out punch to “the Enterprise.” What happened to what he admitted on page 20: “for heretics are not Catholics, and non-Catholics cannot be Popes”? That was stated when Ferrara was addressing teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine. Ferrara didn’t want to declare that Bellarmine and the “theological consensus” were wrong on this issue. But, on page 21, when he sees an opportunity (or so he thinks) to refute sedevacantism with the case of Honorius, he contradicts the statement he made on page 20, and argues that a heretic can be Pope: “although Honorius was post-humously condemned for heresy by a general council, the Church does not consider him to have ceased to be Pope.”
Ferrara’s tactic is basically: “Heads I win, tails you lose.” St. Robert Bellarmine is correct: heretics cannot be Popes, says Ferrara (p. 20); but these guys aren’t heretics, so they are Popes. But heretics can be Popes, says Ferrara (p. 21), so it doesn’t matter whether these guys are heretics, they are still Popes – see Pope Honorius. Whatever way you slice it, says Ferrara, these guys are Popes.
If Ferrara were consistent, he would say that the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine and the “theological consensus” that heretics cease to be Popes is wrong, and the case of Pope Honorius proves it wrong. But Ferrara doesn’t state that because he doesn’t want to contradict St. Robert Bellarmine and the “theological consensus” which agreed. So he dishonestly argues on both sides.
The fact of the matter is that it is a dogmatic fact that a heretic cannot be the Pope, since it is an infallibly defined dogma that a heretic is not a member of the Catholic Church.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics …”
St. Antoninus (1459): "In the case in which the pope would become a heretic, he would find himself, by that fact alone and without any other sentence, separated from the Church. A head separated from a body cannot, as long as it remains separated, be head of the same body from which it was cut off. A pope who would be separated from the Church by heresy, therefore, would by that very fact itself cease to be head of the Church. He could not be a heretic and remain pope, because, since he is outside of the Church, he cannot possess the keys of the Church." (Summa Theologica, cited in Actes de Vatican I. V. Frond pub.)
And the case of Pope Honorius doesn’t prove that a heretic can be the Pope. In condemning Pope Honorius as a heretic after his death, the III Council of Constantinople made no statement – nor has the Church ever made such a statement – that he remained Pope until his death. The Church didn’t address the issue of whether Honorius lost the Papal Office after falling into heresy; it simply condemned him as a heretic. (Honorius was also condemned by the Fourth Council of Constantinople and the Second Council of Nicaea.) Since Honorius was a validly elected Pope (which is why he is listed in the list of true Popes) who became a heretic during his reign, he did lose the Papal Office; for, as Mr. Ferrara admits on page 20, “heretics are not Catholics, and non-Catholics cannot be Popes.”
Pope Honorius had been dead for more than 40 years when he was condemned by the III Council of Constantinople. Honorius had issued no dogmatic decrees, and only “reigned” for three and ½ years after the incident of heresy occurred. Therefore, it is perfectly understandable that the Church didn’t issue any proclamation that Honorius lost his office, because nothing was riding on the issue, and it would have involved a major theological discussion and an entire can of worms that didn’t need to be opened. Further, there was much confusion among people (including Honorius’ successors) as to whether Pope Honorius had been a heretic or merely been guilty of failing to stamp out heresy, as even The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907 states. Hence, the question of whether he remained the Pope and ruled the universal Church for the last three and ½ years of his thirteen-year Pontificate wasn’t especially relevant to the faithful at the time.
In order to further differentiate the case of Honorius from the Vatican II Antipopes, it is important to point out that the lapse of Pope Honorius was almost completely unknown during his reign and for years after his reign. Honorius’ two letters which favored the monothelite heresy (written in 634) were letters to Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. These letters were not only almost completely unknown at the time, but were misunderstood even by the Popes who reigned just after Honorius.
For instance, Pope John IV (640-643), who was the second Pope to reign after Pope Honorius, defended Honorius from any charge of heresy. Pope John IV was convinced that Honorius had not taught the monothelite heresy (that Christ has only one will), but that Honorius merely emphasized that Our Lord doesn’t have two contrary wills.
Pope John IV, “Dominus qui dixit” to Constantius the Emperor, Regarding Pope Honorius, 641: “…So, my aforementioned predecessor [Honorius] said concerning the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, that there were not in Him, as in us sinners, contrary wills of mind and flesh; and certain ones converting this to their own meaning, suspected that He taught one will of His divinity and humanity which is altogether contrary to the truth.” (Denz. 253)
With these facts in mind, one can see: 1) the case of Pope Honorius doesn’t prove that heretics can be Popes, since the Church has never declared that he remained the Pope after his lapse; and 2) the facts of the case of Pope Honorius are drastically different from the case of the Vatican II Antipopes, since Honorius’ two letters containing heresy were almost completely unknown at the time, and were even misunderstood by Popes who succeeded him. To compare Pope Honorius’ two letters to the acts and statements of the manifest heretics John Paul II and Benedict XVI is like comparing a grain of sand to the seashore.
Finally, if you want further confirmation that heretics ipso facto cease to be Popes, and that the case of Pope Honorius provides no evidence to the contrary, you don’t have to take my word for it.
St. Francis De Sales (17th century), Doctor of the Church, The Catholic Controversy, pp. 305-306 : "Thus we do not say that the Pope cannot err in his private opinions, as did John XXII; or be altogether a heretic, as perhaps Honorius was. Now when he [the Pope] is explicitly a heretic, he falls ipso facto from his dignity and out of the Church..."
In the same paragraph in which St. Francis De Sales (Doctor of the Church) mentions Pope Honorius, he states unequivocally that a Pope who would become a heretic would cease to be Pope. St. Francis De Sales wasn’t sure if Pope Honorius was a heretic or merely failed to stamp out heresy, but, whatever it was, St. Francis knew the case of Honorius didn’t affect the truth that heretics cannot be Popes.
St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Alphonsus were also familiar with the case of Pope Honorius. His case didn’t cause them to hesitate in declaring:
St. Robert Bellarmine (1610), Doctor of the Church: "A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction."
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1787), Doctor of the Church: "If ever a pope, as a private person, should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate." (Oeuvres Complètes. 9:232)
With these facts in mind, we can see that the argument from Honorius doesn’t prove anything for the non-sedevacantist, but rather reminds us of the Doctors of the Church who, while recalling his case, simultaneously declare that heretics cannot be Popes.
FERRARA ON THE TEACHING THAT NO ONE CAN JUDGE THE POPE
Chris Ferrara, “Opposing the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Catholic Family News, August 2005, p. 22: “The mind of the Church on this point [no one can judge the First See] was expressed at the level of the papal Magisterium by Pope Paul IV in his Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio (1559). Gravely concerned that, in the midst of the Protestant rebellion, a future Pope might succumb to a Protestant heresy, Paul IV declared that ‘the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.’
“This is a remarkable statement for two reasons: First, it confirms the constant teaching of the Church that no one may judge the First See, even when confronted with alleged papal deviations from the Faith. Second, it nevertheless admits the possibility that a Pope might deviate from the Faith while remaining Pope. In such a case the erring Pope may only be contradicted, but not judged. We shall return to this Bull later to discuss Paul IV’s provisions concerning someone who is a known manifest heretic before a conclave elects him Pope, but for now it suffices to say that here the Magisterium confirms that while the faithful may resist a wayward Pope, they have no right to judge him guilty of the personal sin of heresy and declare his seat to be vacant.”
This is one of the most perverse misrepresentations of Catholic teaching that I’ve read in a long time. Gravely concerned that, in the midst of the Protestant rebellion, a heretic might be elected, Pope Paul IV declared that the faithful must hold as invalid the Papal election of a heretic WITHOUT ANY DECLARATION.
Pope Paul IV, Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Feb. 15, 1559: “6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:-] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:
(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
(ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;
(iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way…
(vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power….
10. No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, re-introduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at Saint Peter's in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1559, 15th February, in the fourth year of our Pontificate.
+ I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church…”
This means that the faithful not only have the ability, but also the obligation to denounce as invalid the election of a manifest heretic. They cannot accept him as valid, and they must give him no obedience “without need for any further declaration,” and “even if [the election] shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals.” One could not ask for a teaching which more specifically proves the sedevacantist position. But Ferrara tells us that this actually means “that while the faithful may resist a wayward Pope, they have no right to judge him guilty of the personal sin of heresy and declare his seat to be vacant.” Mr. Ferrara’s statement is exactly the opposite of the teaching of Paul IV’s Bull, as anyone can see.
It was near the beginning of this Bull, prior to the declaration that the faithful must reject as totally invalid the “election” of a heretic, that Pope Paul IV repeated the teaching that no one can judge the Pope.
Pope Paul IV, Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Feb. 15, 1559: “1. In assessing Our duty and the situation now prevailing, We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind [i.e. error in respect of the Faith] is so grave and so dangerous that the Roman Pontiff, who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fulness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith.”
Could there be a more stunning confirmation that the sedevacantist position doesn’t contradict the teaching that “No one can judge the Pope or the Holy See” than the fact that Pope Paul IV’s Bull repeats this teaching immediately prior to declaring that the faithful must recognize as invalid the election of a heretic!
Pope Paul IV, unlike Chris Ferrara, correctly distinguishes between a true Catholic Pope whom none can judge, and a manifest heretic (e.g. Benedict XVI) who has shown himself to be non-Catholic who is not the Pope, since he is outside of the true Faith.
In bringing forward the fact that Paul IV’s Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio declares that no one can judge the Pope, Mr. Ferrara simply proves the point that the sedevacantist position doesn’t contradict this teaching in any way, for it is this very Bull which declares that no Catholic can accept as valid the election of a heretic, even if it took place with the unanimous consent of the Cardinals and without any declaration. Thank you, Mr. Ferrara, for proving our point that sedevacantists who hold as invalid the “election” of the manifest heretic Joseph Ratzinger are not judging a Pope.
FERRARA’S RECENT INSTALLMENT: HE DOESN’T ADDRESS SEDEVACANTIST ARGUMENTS WITH ANY SPECIFICITY
One of the reasons that the publication of Part 3 was delayed was because we figured that we would wait and see what Ferrara had to say in Part 2 of his attack on sedevacantism. Well, his “Part 2” (or rather an updated version of his Part 1) has now been published in The Remnant. It states almost nothing new, but simply repeats the same things that he mentioned in the Catholic Family News/The Fatima Crusader piece, just in different words.
As expected, Ferrara doesn’t address with any specificity the arguments of the sedevacantists; he just keeps launching his own (already refuted) objections. I could very easily have done the same in this piece: ignore all of the specific arguments made by the other side, and write a completely offensive article which simply launches objection after objection. I have now read 24 books written by the utter apostate and total manifest heretic Joseph Ratzinger (their “Catholic Pope”), and found so many undeniable heresies that I could spend 30 pages asking Ferrara to explain them all away. (See: The Heresies of Benedict XVI File, with more to be added in the future.) But no, because we can answer their arguments, and because the sedevacantist position is the only true position, every major argument that Ferrara made has been addressed and refuted.
FERRARA IS STILL ASSERTING THAT THE VATICAN II ANTIPOPES HAVEN’T TAUGHT ANY HERESY!
Ferrara, on the other hand, cannot (and probably won’t even attempt to) explain how he can actually assert that the Vatican II Antipopes haven’t taught heresy, when it is has been documented that they teach that we shouldn’t convert non-Catholics! Ever heard of the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation, Mr. Ferrara? I guess stating that we shouldn’t convert non-Catholics is not a denial of this dogma, Mr. Ferrara? This, ladies and gentlemen, is what he holds; it is a mockery of God. Only a complete liar and utterly dishonest man would actually argue that holding that we shouldn’t convert non-Catholics is not a denial of the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church! This is an abomination. Ferrara’s next part is supposedly entitled “Show me the Heresy,” where he will surely be arguing the same abomination, that none of these things even constitute heresy.
FERRARA DOESN’T ADDRESS THE FACT THAT THE PUBLICATIONS HE WRITES FOR AND ENDORSES PROVE THE VERY POSITION THAT HE IS ATTACKING
A new article has been published by Ferrara in The Remnant, and we still have no response as to how Ferrara can write for and endorse Catholic Family News and The Fatima Crusader (as he does again in his latest piece) when I proved in Part 1 that these publications admit the very central point that he denies: Vatican II (the official teaching of his sect) teaches heresy condemned by the Magisterium.
John Vennari, “Vatican II vs. the Unity Willed by Christ,” [Same Issue] Catholic Family News, August, 2005, p. 15: “The journal thus admits: that Archbishop Lefebvre rejected the Council’s [Vatican II’s] ecumenism because it contradicted the clear teaching of the Magisterium that preceded it for centuries…”
John Vennari, “Vatican II vs. the Unity Willed by Christ,” [Same Issue] Catholic Family News, August, 2005, p. 17: “Thus, in answer to our question: Vatican II teaches a doctrine of Christian unity that is contrary to Scripture, contrary to Sacred Tradition, contrary to the express and positive will of Jesus Christ.”
“Fr.” Paul Kramer, “The Imminent Chastisement…”, The Fatima Crusader, [Same issue as attack on Sedevacantism] Summer 2005, p. 38: “The Decree on Ecumenism in the Second Vatican Council says that God uses those churches and Ecclesial Communities, that, as such, He uses them as means of salvation…. The Protestant religions, as such, are inspired by the devil, as Pope St. Pius V teaches in his catechism. The new religion of Vatican II says that those diabolically inspired sects are used by God as means of salvation… The Council of Trent and Vatican II cannot both be right! You have diametrically opposed teachings. Only one can be true, the other false.”
I showed how, besides being solemnly promulgated by Paul VI, Ferrara’s current “Pope” (Benedict XVI) declared that Vatican II is the official teaching of the Vatican II sect and that you cannot deny it.
“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, The Ratzinger Report, 1985, p. 28: “It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I, but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called ‘traditionalism’, also in its extreme forms.”
So how can Ferrara write for and endorse these publications which declare that Vatican II is heretical, and therefore prove that the binding teaching of the Conciliar Church is heretical, which is the central point which he denies? Since he continues to write for and endorse these publications, Ferrara can only be considered a public hypocrite (not to mention a heretic).
FERRARA ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY THE POSITION OF THE SSPX, WHO IS COMPLETELY OUTSIDE OF HIS “POPE,” THUS PROVING THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOESN’T EXIST UNDER BENEDICT XVI
In his latest piece, Ferrara also comes to the defense of the SSPX.
Chris Ferrara, The Remnant, “A Challenge to the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Sept. 15, 2005, p. 9: “This contempt [of the sedevacantists] extends even to the traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X. In fact, on September 16th I have been invited to the SSPX chapel in Cincinnati to speak against an increasingly obnoxious congeries of the sedevacantist Enterprise in that locale…. We read that SSPX is ‘formally schismatic, and heretical in its teachings concerning the infallibility of the Church’s teaching authority.’ Yes, Dolan declares SSPX heretical and schismatic because it has opposed certain papally-approved novelties instead of simply declaring the popes in question to be heretical impostors…! This is how absurd sedevacantism is becoming.”
Chris Ferrara says that it is “absurd” for sedevacantists to say that the position of the SSPX is schismatic. The position of the SSPX is clearly schismatic. They are completely outside of Benedict XVI’s hierarchy (the hierarchy they deem to be the Catholic hierarchy) because they feel that to be under Benedict XVI would be to lapse into a false religion. They refuse communion with the members of the “Church” subject to their “Pope,” which is one of the definitions of schism.
How can Ferrara defend the completely schismatic position of the SSPX, when the SSPX has been completely independent of the Vatican II “Popes” and the “hierarchy” for more than 30 years? By defending the SSPX, he is proving the sedevacantist position: the Catholic Church does not exist in the Novus Ordo hierarchy and under Benedict XVI, and it is fine to be independent of it for decades.
Let me point out that the Society of St. Pius X could have been confused about the fullness of what was happening with regard to the Novus Ordo hierarchy for a certain period of time – perhaps a number of years. When the Vatican II apostasy broke, they justifiably wanted to resist it. The full ramifications of what was occurring were not very clear to them. However, after decades, when the dust finally settled, the leaders of the SSPX (and other independent chapels) had to examine their position and come to the realization that they have no justification for operating independently of the Novus Ordo hierarchy if the Novus Ordo hierarchy is, in fact, Catholic. The only reason that they could be independent of the Novus Ordo hierarchy is if the Novus Ordo hierarchy has lost the Faith, is not Catholic, is outside the Church and holds no authority.
St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. 30: "Finally, the Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also that they are "ipso facto" deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity.”
But the SSPX (and many other non-sedevacantist, independent chapels), after decades of apostasy taught by the Vatican II sect, and after decades to examine its untenable position, still obstinately maintains that the apostate, Novus Ordo hierarchy is the true Catholic hierarchy! Yet, the SSPX refuses to put itself under their authority and operate in communion with its hierarchy. The SSPX even rejects the solemn “Canonizations” of Saints declared by its “Pope”! The SSPX’s official position is without any doubt schismatic.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians, (A.D. 110): “He that is within the sanctuary is pure; but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons does not have a clean conscience.” (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers,, Vol. 1:50)
St. Jerome, Commentaries on the Epistle to Titus, (A.D. 386): “Between heresy and schism there is a distinction made, that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the Bishop. (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2:1371a)
By defending the SSPX’s position, Ferrara defends schism and proves the sedevacantist position at the same time. He proves that the Catholic Church does not exist in the Novus Ordo hierarchy and under Benedict XVI, and that people are justified in fleeing them completely. According to Ferrara, the SSPX justifiably considers the religion of Benedict XVI and his “Bishops” to be a false and non-Catholic religion with which they want no part. The SSPX justifiably holds, according to Ferrara, that Benedict XVI and his “Bishops” ultimately have no authority that needs to be recognized in practice by the SSPX. Thank you for proving the point of the sedevacantists, Mr. Ferrara.
FERRARA BRINGS UP A DISHONEST STRAW MAN: THE CASSICIACUM THESIS
In Ferrara’s latest piece, he also brings forward a dishonest straw man: the Cassiciacum thesis.
Chris Ferrara, The Remnant, “A Challenge to the Sedevacantist Enterprise,” Sept. 15, 2005, p. 10: “I cannot fail to mention that even certain sedevacantists recognize the absurdity of the ‘rigorist sedevacantist’ position. They insist, with us, that a determination of papal heresy is not possible for isolated members of the faithful, as the Pope cannot be administered such canonical warnings as would be necessary to establish the pertinacity of his alleged heresy. But, seeing that the idea of a vanishing pope and hierarchy cannot be reconciled with the promises of Christ, this sedevacantist advances the so-called Cassiciacum thesis.”
The adherents of the Cassiciacum thesis are not sedevacantists. The Cassiciacum thesis is the idea that the Vatican II “Popes” are true Popes, but possess no jurisdiction. This is a false theory which empties the Papacy of its power; it contradicts Vatican I, which defined that a Pope by definition possesses supreme jurisdiction. The adherents of this thesis don’t hold that the Chair of Peter is vacant; they hold that the person sitting in the Chair has no actual authority.
By bringing this forward as an argument, Ferrara can dishonestly confuse his readers with how contradictory sedevacantism supposedly is, when, in fact, he is criticizing a thesis which is not even sedevacantist. People employ tactics such as this when they cannot address the real arguments with any specificity. (The SSPX did the same in their tremendously dishonest book Sedevacantism: A False Solution to a Real Problem. The first half of the book concerned the Cassiciacum thesis, which is not even sedevacantism.)
Continue reading on Part 4: Part 4: Chris Ferrara vs. Pope Pius VI on Ambiguity in Heresy
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